The Beijing-backed 11th Panchen Lama on Thursday called upon monks to love China and abide by the country's laws. Addressing monks and scholars at the Tibet Buddhist Theological Institute in Lhasa, he said to be true Buddhists, one needs to love the country.
"I hope you can make good use of the sound learning conditions that the institute provides to learn the essence of Buddhism and safeguard our country and serve its people, so as to be the true Buddhists," the Panchen Lama said.
In 1995, Beijing appointed, Gyancain Norbu, as the 11th Panchen Lama in place of Gendun Choekyi Nyima, chosen by the Dalai Lama.
On a visit to the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) this week, the Panchen Lama has made statements denouncing the self-immolations carried out by monks and civilians in the past one year; at l;east 44 have died so far protesting China's rule over areas where ethnic Tibetans live and demanding the return of the Dalai Lama.
China has blamed the Dalai Lama for inciting violence and has tightened security in areas where the incidents have taken place.
The Panchen Lama began this year's Lhasa visit on Monday. He visited Jokhang Temple -- the most revered monastery in "holy city" Lhasa -- on Tuesday, paying homage to statues of Buddhas and leading a prayer service On Tuesday, he said: "If a person does not protect social stability, he is not fit to be called a man of religion," in a statement that was interpreted as denouncing the suicides carried out by ethnic Tibetans.
According to state-run Xinhua, he has been praised by government leaders for his "fine talk and behavior has been groomed for 17 years of grooming." Now 22, he said he felt "pressured" due to the high expectations he shoulders.
"I feel I am given an important task and bear great responsibilities, but I will take this pressure as motivation," the Panchen Lama said.
"I am confident to let Tibetan Buddhism play a more active role in promoting social harmony and China's development," he added. "For that, the leadership and all people in Tibet can be at ease."